Wednesday, September 4, 2013

NPR Tiny Desk Concerts

For as long as I can remember I have been listening to National Public Radio, whether it is news stories Prairie Home Companion, or the occasional Car Talk. Now four or five years ago NPR started up a Youtube series called Tiny Desk Concerts. The title of the series really sums it up but I will go into a little more detail. NPR invites in various bands, ranging from folk singers all the way to rappers, to perform an acoustic session of sorts behind a "Tiny Desk". Sometimes there is only one person performing other times there are twenty people, and these performers play their music in front of the office members. These performances are then recorded and put on to Youtube for everyone to watch and enjoy.

I have just recently started watching these videos and they are so well done and enjoyable to watch, especially from a film students perspective. Now from what I can tell, is there are either two or three videographers recording the show, one getting a wide shot on a tripod of the artists playing, and the two others focus on getting close ups of the performers faces, guitar fret boards etc. The videos are always edited together in a very clean yet creative way. The really impressive part is the audio piece. Keep in mind they are recording in a standard office. The last time I went into an office I don't remember there being acoustics like the ones in Ford Hall. Recording one person performances is one thing but to get crisp beautiful sound when there are horns, a string quartet, vocals and guitars going is a completely different task. The specific band I am referring to is Mother Falcon

Mother Falcon is a 20 person chamber pop band, yes this sounds weird but in fact they are one of my favorite bands. The members play many different instruments and tend to be a loud band. Yet when they were invited into NPR the only recording device I could see was a single shot gun mic placed a few feet in front of them. The sound for this performance was impeccable. Granted they are a very professional radio station but still an impressive feat nonetheless. The link below is to Mother Falcons performance and though it may not seem very interesting I strongly suggest you watch it purely for the example of pristine audio recording. I will also post a link to the Macklemore Tiny Desk Concert if that seems more appealing. 

I hope you enjoyed my little rant along with the awesome web series that NPR produces.

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